The DARE-UK annual meeting was held remotely on the 30th June and 1st July. It was great to hear about the progress that was being made across the programme, despite the obvious difficulties brought about by Covid-19. Here’s a snapshot of some of the meeting highlights and a summary of where we’re heading over the next year. The DARE-UK team can see all the presentations and discussion transcripts on the Science Team page.
The WP1 team have been busy during the first year of the project! Pete Levy, with help from Yuri Artoli and Luke Smallman, gave a whistle-stop tour of some new work. They showed how biosphere flux estimates from the UKGHG and CARDAMOM models were being improved by incorporating new data sources. At the same time, the team had been working hard on understanding how anthropogenic fluxes change in time. Pete showed how new data streams (power generation, traffic counts, etc.) could be used to estimate, for example, how carbon fluxes might change during the recent national lockdown. We also heard how new data assimilation methods and improved field data on fertiliser applications were being used to estimate changes in terrestrial N2O flux.
Yuri Artoli summarised the results of the recent paper in JGR Biogeosciences on fluxes of CO2 and N2O from the coastal ocean around the UK. This work has generated a lot of interest across the team, and new work is being proposed around the detectability of these coastal fluxes by the atmospheric network, and the role that nitrate run-off from the land plays in the overall coastal N2O flux.
Work package 2 have spent much of the last 12 months in the lab, readying some exciting new instruments for deployment in the field. Tim Arnold started by showing how the new nitrous oxide instruments deployed across most of the UK network were allowing us to see detail in the record, which was previously hidden by noise. He then showed the amazing progress that had made in installing Rn instruments from ANSTO at Tacolneston, Heathfield and Ridge Hill (complementing the existing instrument at Weybourne). These data are going to be used in DARE-UK to evaluate the performance of the atmospheric models. Tim showed how the methane isotopologue, radiocarbon and atmospheric potential oxygen measurement systems were taking shape. It is hoped that these new systems will allow us to disaggregate different sources of carbon dioxide (e.g. natural versus anthropogenic) and methane (e.g. agriculture versus fossil fuel). Finally, we saw plans for the deployment of ground-based remote sensing equipment around London in collaboration with the NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility. Deployment of the isotope, oxygen and remote sensing instruments has been delayed somewhat, due to the lockdown. However, the team are aiming to have them all up and running at sites in the southeast of England by the end of 2020.
Rebecca Fisher gave a talk on some of the work that the team at Royal Holloway have been doing on mobile measurement of methane fluxes and characterisation of isotopic source signatures. She showed how there is now some really detailed information on methane isotope ratios and methane:ethane ratios from a range of emissions sources across the country. The challenge for the next 12 months will be to incorporate this information into the bottom-up modelling and use it in top-down frameworks to constrain sources from different sectors.
Atmospheric modelling and top-down flux estimation
Anita Ganesan gave an overview of the preparations that the atmospheric modelling teams were making in anticipation of the new datasets, which will become available over the next year. The Bristol and Edinburgh teams have been working on methods to incorporate co-emitted tracers (e.g. ethane as a co-emitted tracer for fossil methane) into their inverse modelling frameworks. Meanwhile, Reading have been looking at the physics of the NAME model, and developing methods for improving the turbulence scheme.
DARE-UK researchers have been involved in recent Europe-wide model inter-comparison experiments. Alecia Nickless gave an overview of a recent EUROCOM activity looking at the impact of the 2018 drought on European carbon dioxide fluxes. The change in net carbon flux brought about by the very dry conditions were thought to be detectable by the measurements and models.
Stakeholder engagement and next steps
Alistair Manning gave an overview of the outcomes of the stakeholder engagement event, which prompted much discussion about new directions and opportunities for the coming year. A write-up of the stakeholder event can be found on our newsletters page. Detailed action items for science team members are also on the Science Team page. Broadly, there were several areas that the group decided should be explored:
- It was felt that DARE-UK should have a strong presence at COP 26 in Glasgow. Matt, Alistair and others are exploring ways to collaborate with other groups and measurement campaigns that have been scheduled to occur during the event
- Since the closure of Angus Tower, the UK no longer has measurements in Scotland. It was felt that the impact of this loss should be investigated in terms of uncertainty in top-down methane and carbon dioxide fluxes, and options for possible funding for a new site explored. A sub-group will be formed and report back.
- There was a very strong consensus that DARE-UK would benefit strongly from partnerships with other countries with similar ambitions. We will explore links with Ireland, New Zealand and several other countries.
- The issue of the impact of estuarine outflow on coastal nitrous oxide fluxes was raised. Yuri and Alistair will lead a further investigation to determine whether these fluxes represent a substantial contribution to the UK total.
- The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on GHG fluxes will need to be explored. The team had a range of suggestions for identifying emissions changes across the country. This is an ongoing subject of research by several teams, who will report back in the near future.
With the bulk of the DARE-UK measurements scheduled to occur before next summer, so we’re already looking forward to hearing about new advances in greenhouse gas measurements and modelling in the UK at the annual meeting in June 2021!